- By Tammy, Thai Intel’s humanity journalist
Matichon, a newspaper for the neutral intellect here in Thailand, just reported as the leading story in today’s newspaper that Yingluck, the Thai prime minister, is pissed at Kittirat, her right hand man on economics and commerce-for poor public relations efforts related to energy price increase.
- Deep Rooted Problem Alienates All:
The problem, is that with the energy increase, being the price of gas, saw a horde of trucks and taxi, that have followed several previous Thai governments’ recommendation to switch to gas, going to protest by blocking a major highway-causing total traffic gridlock for hours, that practically resulted in Bangkok‘s traffic coming to a standstill.
The protest took place at the Thai Energy Conglomerate, PTT, where PTT spends about US$30 million a year on advertisement and Thai taxi cab drivers are about 80% supporters of the Yingluck’s government.
- Confusion Reign with No End:
For weeks now, there have been talk about Yingluck increasing the gas price. The problem is, if Thai Intel readers know the Thai energy story, you know there is no story-as Thailand has no energy “Master Plan” other than pushing for alternative fuels.
And thus without an energy master plan, everyone gets totally confused as most of the energy planning in Thailand, by anyone, is done based on short-term prospect and political pressure. Here, the macro problem is that any energy master plan, will hit different sector of the Thai economy differently, and because Thailand have been in a political crisis for years and years now-no politician dares to up-set anybody in Thailand.
- Public Relations to Die For:
But this report is not about the Thai energy story, but about public relations-particularly, the public relations that have made Yingluck and her political party the darling of most of the Thai people.
And this report will start with the Democrat Party failure at the last election. There was no doubt, the Democrat Party went into the election stacked with powerful guns. About 90% of the Thai media was with them. A big chunk of the Interior Ministry people were appointed by them. The Red Shirts just ended their protest some months before in a blood bath that the Red Shirts offended most of the establishment, particularly the middle-class. Abhisit is a master of marketing communications and the entire Democrat Party, and everyone in it, are master at public relations. And they have been in power for about three years and the Democrat Party machine was a well oiled public relations machine.
- Limits of Public Relations:
But what went wrong, as they still lost the election in a landslide victory to Yingluck.
The problem can be seen in a small incident involving Freedom Against Censorship Thailand-where one day, the highly respected unit, just had it with Abhisit, and called Abhisit a lier. The fact is, the problem with Abhisit and the Democrat Party, is the so so well oiled public relations machine, it forgot, that under the cover of every package, there is still the product.
Worse! After the landslide election loss, there was an internal evaluation, and the new Democrat Party secretary said there was a problem in the Democrat Party public relations efforts. The problem according to him, is that the party is too good at “Negative Campaigning” in “Attacking Opposition” with “Maximum Hatred and Criticism.”
In sum here, the problem for the Democrat Party are first, a bad product and secondly, ugly packaging.
- A Success Stroy with Little Public Relations:
Yingluck meanwhile, came into the political scene, in what even the New York Times and the Economist calls a “Genius Election Campaign.” That campaign, off course ran into the 90% hostile media-but Yingluck kept it simple-and that is Yingluck talked of re-conciliation and showed it, by not counter-attacking her opponents. And that is just exactly, what the Thais wants-after a total political melt-down since the 2006 coup.
The summary here, is that Yingluck, fundamentally, does not believe in using public relations to the extent that Abhisit of the Democrat Party used it. The fact is, Yingluck rely on the Thais to see through public relations efforts.
- A Yingluck Public Relations Twist:
- How does one explain Yingluck being angry at Kittarat for weak public relations, and causing a near total traffic grid-lock in Bangkok?
What Thai Intel finds interesting, is that with the grid-lock, the Democrat Party of Abhisit, came out and attacked Kittirat and Yingluck with the usual maximum fire-power. But Kittirat himself, admitted that he was weak in communicating his plans for gas price to the public. Then Yingluck criticized Kittarat for the same thing-meaning, both are admitting that there is actually a place for public relations work. Funny thig is, it looks like it is a “Blame Bad Public Relations Game.”
- Not falling for the Public Relations Trap:
But perhaps, to not make Abhisit type of mistake, now a committee making up with the public and private sectors has been formed to work out a deal on the gas price structure and keep the communications line open-and thus clearly, Kittirat is not using the service of public relations firms to cover-up anything.
Still, underlying all of this, is that Abhisit and Kittirat are exactly the same, powerless to draw up an “Energy Master Plan” for Thailand. And with that, there is lots of opportunity for public relations work-used one way or another.
- The following is from the Bangkok Post:
Bangkok Post : Highway chaos fear forces a rethink over CNG price
Highway chaos fear forces a rethink over CNG price
Published: 8/01/2012 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News
The government will be asked to reconsider its plan to raise the price of compressed natural gas after transport firms threatened to block national highways with up to 20,000 vehicles.
Energy Minister Pichai Naripthaphan yesterday promised to put the issue to the government tomorrow as pressure mounted over the plan to raise the price of CNG from 8.5 baht per kilogramme to 14.5 baht by December.
The price has been capped at 8.5 baht per kilogramme since 2009.
Representatives from the Land Transport Federation of Thailand (LTFT), which covers more than 20,000 buses, taxis, tuk tuks, vans and trucks, met Mr Pichai yesterday to make clear they would not tolerate the increase.
Mr Pichai said he would talk with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinnawatra and Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong to find a solution as he had no authority to make a decision.
The National Energy Policy Council approved the rise in October. It would be made gradually at 50 satang a month until December.
Last week , the LTFT gave the government an ultimatum to delay the plan or it would block main highways starting tomorrow.
“We’ve yet to increase the price pending the results of the discussion with the prime minister,” Mr Pichai said.
“What we want is a win-win solution for retailers and consumers.”
PTT Plc, the sole CNG supplier, has claimed an accumulated loss from CNG of 31 billion baht as of December. The loss could hit 41 billion baht this year if the price does not rise.
A plan formulated by Mr Pichai would see public transport operators getting a subsidy of two baht a kilogramme through the government-sponsored energy credit card.
LTFT chairman Yoo Chienyuenyongpong said the plan to block highways is going ahead pending the government’s final decision.
The federation has also demanded PTT clarify its CNG price structure from upstream to downstream production.
The chairman of the Private Bus Operator’s Club, Bunyong Amporntrakul, said members want the price of CNG to be the same as in Malaysia where it sells for 6.5 baht a kilogramme.
Thailand has its own gas reserves, though less than Malaysia, Mr Bunyong said.
Pailin Chuchottaworn, chief executive of PTT Plc, declined to comment.
The company reported yesterday that gas supplies from Burma’s Yetakun block had resumed after being stopped on Dec 29. That caused a CNG shortage in Thailand over the New Year holidays.
Gas supplies from Burma make up about 24% of Thailand’s total gas consumption.
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